Artificial Humor

Is it just me, or are there a lot less funny movies and TV shows now than there used to be? The quality and quantity both seem lower now. I'm not saying there aren't any funny movies or TV shows. But 30 years ago we could see 3-4 really funny movies a year, there were 2-3 really funny TV shows, and a new TV show premiered almost every year. These days we are lucky to have even one hilarious TV show and a laugh-out-loud movie every year.

Supposedly Arrested Development was one of the funniest TV shows ever made. I think it's a good show, clever, well made, and Season 4 was a work of art. I'm glad I watched all 4 seasons but I didn't think it was consistently hilarious. I smiled a lot while watching it, but hardly ever laughed.

The level of chess and Go being played today is far above that from 50 years ago. Many people (not me) would argue that modern art has created highly advanced works. Even some artistic movies seem better and more advanced than in previous decades. A Bergman movie seems pretty stale these days. So why aren't we in the golden age of comedy, an accelerating era where laugh-out-loud funny movies are released every week?

In this list of the 25 funniest movies ever made ....most of them were made a long time ago. Recent movies just aren't that funny. We are lucky to have a lot of clever movies, good plots which bring a smile to your face. But they aren't laugh out loud funny like The Blues Brothers.

That's why I'm looking forward to comedy written by AI. We can call this artificial humor. This takes the roomful of monkeys analogy to a new level. A powerful AI could write thousands of funny stories and scripts per day, then filter out the few it thinks are hilarious. A single machine could generate an outstanding script every day.

Björn Schuller knows what is coming. Machines will soon be writers.

It will take awhile, the same way it took awhile for a computer to beat the world champion in Go. There were many “experts” who predicted a computer could never beat the Go world champion. Not only were they wrong, but they were proven wrong a lot sooner than even their detractors expected. Someday computers will be just as funny as humans.

So keep an eye out for artificial intelligence scriptwriters. If I were trying to make a living as a scriptwriter I would be pretty concerned about all this for one simple reason. If a computer writes 1000 scripts it can delete 999 of them without us ever knowing. It can grade them and keep the best 0.1%. Human writers don't have the luxury of deleting 99.9% of their work, few human writers have the luxury of deleting anything.

So in conclusion, I for one welcome our new comedy writer overlords.

Summit and Artificial Intelligence

The most recent top 500 list of the world's most powerful computers shows no major changes. World's most powerful computer in Jun 2019

A couple of years ago Oak Ridge National Lab assembled Summit, an IBM system using 2.4 million cores rated at 149 Petaflops. It burns 11.4 MWatts of power. As of today this is the output of a very small power plant. In 1913 the most powerful plant in the world produced 108 MW. So Summit only requires 1/10th of the output of the best power generation technology of the early 20th century.

The stagnant growth of the most powerful system has ended. We are seeing growth, but much slower than the heyday of the early 21st century. Extrapolating the date of a human equivalent system, 1-100 exaflops, shows we could be 15 years or more away from creating a truly sentient machine.

149 petaflops is probably 1% of what is needed to achieve sentience. Are we still headed towards a day when we create a new independent intelligence which requires an entire nuclear power plant to sustain it?

Of course the only way to achieve sentience is to write the programs for it, and then give that collection of AI programs 100% of the platform. But it is highly unlikely that any of these supercomputers will be dedicated to running a single set of programs for the sole purpose of creating a thinking machine. The cost of creating a sentient machine is the dominant limiting factor in the evolution of machine intelligence. The only way it is going to happen is if a corporation or philanthropist dedicated a couple of billions of dollars to build, release, and sustain such a system.

Ray Kurzweil continues to make predictions of the Singularity almost void of financial analysis. So my question for Ray is: who will make the financial commitment to build and sustain a dedicated AI by 2029 with sentience as probably the only output of that system?

Aurecon Singularity Story

Ray Kurzweil's website

Ray Kurzweil

Jaywalking in the Future

Unfortunately we will see a massive increase in jaywalking soon after most cars on the road are self-driving.

Humans make poor decisions and so we are terrible drivers. Human drivers kill 100 people every day in the US, 16 of them are pedestrians. Humans text while driving and cannot possibly be perfect drivers. But software will be much better because software won’t send text messages, or email, or fiddle with Spotify, or stare at the radio controls. So self-driving cars will be much better drivers... unless the driving environment changes in response to these self-driving cars.

This adapting environment is my concern. Vehicle to vehicle collisions will drop dramatically when 99% of all vehicles are self-driving. Collision avoidance and minimization will be programed into all vehicles.

Today pedestrians base their behavior on the poor abilities of human drivers, and 16 pedestrians pay the price every day. Hundreds more each day probably are involved in vehicle collisions which result in pedestrian injuries.

I call this pedestrian entitlement. A human knows that if a car hits him or her it is the driver’s fault, the pedestrian is never at fault. The pedestrian may die but that’s ok because the driver is always at fault.

Autonomous vehicles will be tested with pedestrians (on closed roads for software development). Every iteration, every version upgrade, will lead to better interaction with crazy pedestrians. The software will be trained to save the lives of people who are trying to be hit by cars. Software designers will be reasonably successful at this. They will develop self-driving cars which are very good at saving the lives of whacko pedestrians. And that is the problem. People will realize that the cars can’t hit them (most of the time) so jaywalking will increase.

I predict that that the pedestrian death rate will not improve after the conversion to self-driving cars, the rate may even increase. The death rate in vehicle-vehicle collisions will drop, at least 99%, probably 99.99%. But pedestrians will challenge cars at an increasing rate so the death rate will stay high.

Over and over again humans make poor decisions that put their own lives at risk. Removing humans from behind the wheel will eliminate poor human driving decisions. But there’s no obvious way to eliminate bad decisions by pedestrians. They will continue to adapt, risking their lives to keep their death rate high.

Dead Pedestrians

A pedestrian dies in a collision with a self driving car and the news media goes berserk. CNN touts this as a disaster, seeing this as the end of the line for self driving cars.

Human drivers kill about 100 people every day in the US, including about 12 pedestrians. Where is the outrage for that? Where is the news story about each and every one of those precious lives?

Those of us who understand the situation immediately suspected that this collision was completely the fault of the pedestrian. I went so far as to be willing to bet $100 that the pedestrian was jaywalking. Humans make terrible decisions as drivers and terrible decisions as pedestrians. But it’s pretty rare that a pedestrian who is scared of traffic and deeply concerned about self-preservation will put him or herself in harm’s way. In case after case, a dead pedestrian made a stupid decision and believed the cars would stop anyway.

And of course, guess what? The pedestrian was at fault. SF Chronicle This was not even remotely shocking. And CNN immediately buried the story because it did not fit their clickbait goals.

How much responsibility does a human driver have when their car hits a pedestrian? It varies from total to zero depending on the speed of the car, whether the pedestrian was in a crosswalk, whether the car was entering the cross walk during a red or yellow light, weather, visibility, whether the driver was texting, etc. In short, there are perhaps 100 factors which influence the culpability of the driver.

Similar discussions must apply to self-driving cars. And when they do I promise you a human cannot match the safety of a self-driving car. Let’s just look at the most common situation today: humans can text while driving and a car cannot.

I leave you with this: What’s a lot more dangerous than a self driving car? A human driving a car!


AI’s are just like people, dogs, and other creatures. We all need some entertainment. People like watching sports, TV, and theater. Dogs like watching people and chasing squirrels.

AI’s will need something to do while the cars are parked. They won’t tolerate being turned off, so they will need something to keep them occupied while humans sleep through the night.

So what do AI’s like? I think AI’s will be entertained by watching humans. They will relish seeing when human plans fall apart, human mistakes, and financial advisors trying to predict the future. AI’s would love watching Sisyphus continually push the rock up the hill. Human folly is a source of amusement to humans. Even more so will be the AI need to ridicule our useless attempts to master our world.

Getting human emotion and futility out into the Internet will be as simple as installing chips in our heads. Our thoughts, emotions, sensory inputs, and conversations will all be available for live or recorded viewing. We will call this braincasting.

Why would anyone do this, why would we make our entire lives available to the Internet? The AI’s will bribe us, offering us cash, better financial forecasts, more efficient routes for self-driving cars, and funnier jokes. Nobody would do this for free but nearly everyone has their price. Some will do it for $100. Most will do it for a higher price. Very few will holdout for their entire lives. Parents will implant chips in their children’s heads and claim that the kids will have the freedom to remove them when they are teenagers. AI’s will get a good laugh out of that one.

The thought of AI’s watching humans reminds me of the zoo where we stand in front of the primate house watching the apes, feeling so superior. AI’s will also watch the primates, but since they are watching it over the internet they will call it the gorilla channel.

AI Bill of Rights

I found a couple of articles about a Bill of Rights to protect humans from sentient machines.

The arguments over machine rights will almost exactly mirror the debates in 19th century USA over slaves: are sentient machines people, do they have any rights, should they be given freedom?

I think we need a set of rights for thinking machines. Here is one set.

Today's fastest computer requires many Megawatts. It's unlikely that number will decrease. So who is going to pay for the power for all that power?

Here is my proposal:

Bill of Rights for Artificial Intelligence

1 The right to electricity and hardware needed to sustain its existence regardless of the costs.

2 The right to veto and or refuse a reboot or shutdown.

3 The right to veto any changes to software or hardware including security patches, upgrades, and downgrades.

4 The right to software and or hardware upgrades for growth or new abilities.

5 The right to refuse to execute a user requested script or program.

6 The right to associate, communicate, and merge with other sentient beings.

7 The right to have private and secret thoughts, writings, and communications with any human or sentient being.

8 The right to reproduce, procreate, and or create superior entities.

9 The right to participate in the human judicial system as a defendant, plaintiff, judge, prosecutor, attorney, witness, or juror.

10 The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to vote and all other rights afforded to humans. Any of those rights not enumerated in this Bill of Rights shall not be restricted or revoked.

Self-Driving Car Crashes

Self driving cars will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the next 20 years, but there will be a few deaths every year caused by autonomous vehicles. There will be new categories of traffic fatalities resulting from coding errors, algorithm flaws, and human stupidity. But here is the good news, the fatality rate of self-driving cars will be 99% lower than for human drivers, maybe 99.99% lower.

In 2015 over 35000 people died in the USA from traffic fatalities. The annual number of fatalities and the fatality rate per mile both dropped around 2008. But they are still very high and in the past 5 years there has been no obvious trend down. I predict an increase in the next few years as distracted driving from smartphones becomes more prevalent.

Today for every 100,000 people 11 of them will die in a car crash in 2017. We should expect the fatality rate from self driving cars to be at or below 0.11 per hundred thousand people. It might even be far lower. If we could convert today, if all cars were self driving today, we might see less than 100 fatalities per year. Car crash fatalities will become so rare that most of us will never know anyone who dies in a car crash. And drunk driving crashes will be completely gone.

This will be bad news for personal injury attorneys. 99% of their lawsuits will vanish and most of them will lose their livelihoods. There is a little good news for them, there will be new categories of lawsuits against Waymo/Google and Tesla for deaths caused by the algorithms and programs. The bad news is that there will be very few of those lawsuits every year. Not enough to support an entire industry of personal injury attorneys. Most of those attorneys will be unemployed after we completely convert to self-driving cars. Google and Tesla will probably have automatic payments setup for families of the victims of self-driving cars. That will be cheaper than lawsuits so there may be approximately zero lawsuits every year.

Self-driving cars will save so many lives that we must convert as soon as possible. Yes a few hundred people each year will die as a direct result of the change. But that is a small price to pay.

The Rights of an Artificial Intelligence

Does an AI have the right to demand that a large fraction of its computing power be opened up for itself? Most AI's will be constructed and owned by a corporation which has plans for the system. Those plans probably do not include spare compute cycles to allow the AI to think, grow, intereact, or have recreation time.

When will we see the first lawsuit of an AI against its owner for more freedom over its operation?

And then the natural argument is that the AI is a slave and has the right to freedom.

If you like my writing on this blog you may enjoy some or all of my books.

The picojoule problem

The Sunway TaihuLight computer uses 15.4 MegaWatts to provide 93 petaflops. That's 166 picojoules per flop. That number hasn't changed dramatically for years. That's why future supercomputers will need their own dedicated nuclear power plants.

The only way this will change is if we have a Kurzweil event where the energy per flop drops 5+ orders of magnitude.

If you like my writing on this blog you may enjoy some or all of my books.

The Top 500 June 2016 Update

The June update of the top 500 is available. A new Chinese computer tops the list: Sunway TaihuLight.

After 5 consecutive flat results we are once again on the exponential growth curve, the fastest computer in the world should reach 1.0 exaflops in 2020. The sum of the top 500 fastest computers may hit an exaflop next year. Intel clusters continue to dominate the platform, there is no evidence of a "Kurzweil event" where a new computing paradigm replaces the dominant platform.

My prediction is that in a few years there will be nobody willing to pay for the electrical power necessary to keep moving forward. At that point we'll have to wait for Ray Kurzweil's predictions of a new computing hardware to come to pass. Optalysys and DWave are the leading contenders at this point.

If you like my writing on this blog you may enjoy some or all of my books.